An original 18th-century watercolour painting, Attrib. John Varley OWS Mountain Landscape; Cat Studies.
This double-sided sheet comprises a dramatic sepia watercolour painting of a mountain torrent on one side, and on the other side, animal studies of cats and a fox, in graphite and brown wash. Though it is unsigned, this work was acquired along with a three other works by John Varley, two of which were signed and one of which had a historic gallery label with an additional reference to this drawing: 'Animals by Varley'. On laid paper.
There is some minor age toning to the paper, and a short repaired tear to the far upper right corner. The verso side, with the animal studies, has some historic paper and adhesive remnants to the corners, and some marks as shown.
19.9cm x 14.6cm.
John Varley OWS (1778–1842) was an influential English watercolour painter, who was also an astrologer, and a good friend of William Blake's. Varley was one of the founders of the Old Watercolour Society, and he was a master in the medium, being particularly skilled in the art of overlaying flat washes of watercolour, to build up the pastoral landscape scenes that were his specialism. Varley was also an accomplished teacher, whose pupils included Copley Fielding, David Cox and John Linnell (Varley published A Treatise on the Principles of Landscape Drawing, and A Practical Treatise on the Art of Drawing in Perspective).But it is for his interest in esoteric subjects, and his friendship with Blake, that Varley is best known today. In 1819-20 Varley and Blake collaborated on the book Visionary Heads, in which Blake drew the 'spiritual forms' of various famous historical and biblical figures (including Joan of Arc and Nebuchadnezzar), and creatures (including, famously, a flea), who appeared to him in visions, while Varley wrote the text, describing what happened as Blake 'saw' his subjects. Varley also wrote and illustrated an astrological text entitled A Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy, which attempted to explain differences in facial appearance with reference to the influence of the stars and planets.
Text copyright © 2018 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.
Product code: JH-133